Washington Examiner says administration continues to try to reshape energy industry
(News OK 5-30-2012) “THE true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra,” President Obama declared two years ago this past weekend. That statement was already doubtful in May 2010 when Obama visited the solar panel manufacturer’s Fremont, Calif., headquarters between political fundraisers to celebrate the $500 million it had received in taxpayer-funded stimulus cash.
Today, with Solyndra’s operations shuttered, its employees laid off and its assets (including those paid for by taxpayers) divvied up among creditors in bankruptcy, Obama’s statement from two years ago makes for a good laugh. Unfortunately, it isn’t so funny for the operators of America’s real economic engines — the businesses out there that use energy and do not require government handouts for their day-to-day survival.
Even as he has shoveled stimulus cash into green losers like Solyndra, Beacon Power and others, Obama’s EPA has been working hard to keep his 2008 campaign promise to make electricity prices “necessarily skyrocket” for winning businesses that employ Americans.
If you wonder how Obama could perform so poorly in his primaries against nonentity challengers in Appalachian states like Kentucky and West Virginia, look no further than the president’s war on coal. A number of recent EPA rules issued by the Obama administration are shutting down coal-fired power plants, to the delight of environmental extremists in his base. The left-wing group Beyond Coal has gleefully posted a tally online of how many coal-fired plants have shut down so far — 110 out of 522, or 13 percent of all coal-based electric capacity in the United States. Two rules in particular — the Utility MACT rule and a rule on coal ash — will place a $31 billion annual burden on the U.S. economy, according to EPA’s own estimates, which will ultimately be borne by consumers and ratepayers.
The consequences of this regulatory demolition go far beyond the coal industry itself. Fox News Online last week noted the recent 2015 capacity auction held by PJM Interconnection, which operates the electric grid for 13 states, mostly in the lower Midwest and mid-Atlantic. As a result of new EPA regulations that take effect in 2015, the market-clearing price was $136 per megawatt of capacity, or “eight times higher than the price for 2012.” Generation capacity makes up only part of your utility bill, so don’t expect to see a 700 percent rate increase in 2015 — but do expect it to go up. Such a spike will have consequences for job creation, especially in energy-intensive fields like manufacturing, and it will come at a time when the job market should be regaining the ground it has lost since 2008.
The lesson of Solyndra’s bankruptcy goes beyond one failed company whose investors bought influence in the Obama White House. It speaks more broadly to a president who knows little about industry, yet is determined to reshape it in his own politically correct image and likeness. Ordinary working people will pay the price for his attempt to placate an ideological base consumed by hatred of coal and fear that global warming will soon send tidal waves through the streets of New York City.
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